April 26, 2008


Lynn Swann: You gonna add another championship trophy to the old case downstairs?
Coach Red Beaulieu: That's kinda like my old man told me one time, Lynn. The only thing better than a crawfish dinner, is five crawfish dinners.
-The Waterboy (1998)

I'd have to agree with the coach's father.

Which is a very very *good* thing when one has fifteen pounds of them to dispatch, peel and employ in something tasty good.

How did this California girl happen upon fifteen pounds of Louisiana's beloved mudbugs?

It all started in email.

Joshua said he liked my blog (I'm still often surprised that a bunch of people I've never met *read* my blog) and he was wondering if I'd be willing to try out one of the products offered at Cajun Grocer and blog about the experience. He offered a choice of Crawfish or Turducken.

Um... TurDUCKen? What would I do with turducken?

Not wanting to embarrass myself in front of my aforementioned readership, I selected the crawfish. Nothing difficult about crawfish. Boil. Peel. Eat some. Search Google for a recipe for the rest. This isn't exactly rocket science...

'cept for the true crawfish enthusiast, I suspect it has its similarities. In hindsight, the boiling process might have been easier with this. Or one of these. Having neither at our disposal, we put my 18 quart stock pot to some heavy duty use.

The fish arrived on Friday evening. After spending the evening on my island (and freaking me out a bit when I walked through the kitchen and heard them milling about in their container... yeah, they're most definitely alive), we broke out the stockpot and broke open the packaging to see what lay in store for us.

My only previous experience with crawfish is at the Bay Area's nod to Cajun Country: New Orleans by the Bay. The contents of my carefully packaged styrofoam container were at least four times the size of anything I'd seen there... some of them small-lobster sized. And based on their fresh but slightly earthy scent, I don't doubt the claim that they were fished and shipped the same day.

We boiled the crawfish according to the instructions on the seasoning package and I'm proud that my little stockpot that could held up beautifully to the task. We rapidly realized that the boiling was the easy part... the challenge was going to be in the peeling.

And peeling...

And peeling...

John did his part almost entirely with his fingers, while I chose to employ a paring knife so my manicurist won't have a seizure when I see her next week. It took us the better part of the afternoon to get them all peeled. We snacked a bit along the way and decided that the seasoning packet permeated perfectly, and enhanced the natural sweetness of the meat.

Now, what to do with all of that crawfish meat?

We thought about beignets, but that felt like a lot *more* work. I'm not a huge fan of etouffee or jambalaya. After some amount of deliberation, I chose to make a riff on Emeril's Crawfish and Cream over Pasta, employing a bunch of asparagus from this week's CSA box in place of the green onions and parsley, both of which would have required a last minute grocery shopping expedition. I used a package of Pasta Etc.'s fresh Lemon Chive Linguine which played beautifully with the chardonnay cream sauce.

In the end, the coach's dad would be proud... It's a rich, indulgent dish, easily allowing for five to seven crawfish lunches and dinners.

Others who've tried this recipe:
Elizabeth shares a sensational story of two families meeting in the wake of a storm as she prepares Emeril's feast.

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glamah16 said...

Ohhhhhweeeeee! Thats a dish.

skrockodile (sabra) said...

Gosh - what a really weird coincidence! And you made pasta the next day too! How strange, no? The skin on my thumbs was completely raw after this - was yours??? :)

Claudia said...

Okay, so here's what you REALLY do with them: first, invite fifteen people over for a crawfish boil. Buy beer. Order 30 pounds of crawfish. Beg, borrow, steal or buy turkey fryers and set 'em up in the yard complete with steaming baskets. Get lots of napkins. Steam the crawfish in those big old pots with corn on the cob, carrots, onions and potatos. spread the picnic tables with lots of newspaper, and when the food is cooked, and the guests appropriately soused on the beer, divide the bounty in big piles in the middle of each table. Step back - enjoy the exitement you have wrought.

We've done this before and are about to do it again. It's an AWSOME amount of fun. Oh, and coleslaw is a nice addition, and great big cookies for dessert!

Cris said...

Wow! You're very lucky!